Say Goodbye to Bad Breath

Bad breath is caused by a number of factors in various sites which are listed below with their remedies

The Mouth

Tongue Causes

As much as 80 percent of Halitosis (Bad Breath) is from oral causes due to the production of Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC’s). 

These VSC’s are mainly composed of 3 gases: hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimenthyl sulphide which are produced when bacteria and epithelial cells break down and are associated with gram negative (Anaerobic) bacterial activity.

Using a gas chromatograph called a Halimeter (similar to a Breathalyzer) it has been shown that up to 150 parts per billion (ppb) of VSC’s are present in everyone’s breath but more than this causes Halitosis.

It has been shown that at least 80 percent of VSC’s produced in the mouth comes from the tongue. The tongue is like a carpet or sponge and when bacteria and dead cells fall on it, they decompose and form VSC’s causing bad breath.

The most effective way of eliminating bad breath due to tongue causes is to clean the tongue using a tongue scraper. This device is a U-shaped strip of stainless steel or plastic with which one scrapes the surface of the tongue. The tongue scraper is then rinsed under a running tap between each scrape to remove the debris.

At first people tend to gag when using the tongue scraper but it is much more effective than brushing the tongue with a toothbrush. Using a mouthwash before using a tongue scraper makes the procedure less unpleasant.

Another bad breath problem, called morning breath, occurs due to decreased saliva flow and a buildup of dead cells and bacteria at night. This debris putrefies producing VSC’s and bad breath in the morning until one eats, drinks or brushes one’s teeth, which stimulates saliva flow washing away debris.

Eating carrots and celery stimulates saliva flow and is recommended in older people who often have decreased saliva flow and people on antihistamines where the mouth is dried out and bacteria can flourish.

Smoking causes white hairy tongue, which traps debris and bacteria and causes halitosis.

Americans spend about one billion dollars per year on fresh breath remedies, but mouthwashes and breath sprays are relatively ineffective and only mask bad breath – they do not eliminate the odour causing molecules (VSC’s)

Toothpastes and mouthwashes containing Chlorine Dioxide have been shown to be effective in neutralizing VSC’s. Oxygene retardant toothpaste and Retardex oral rinse are some examples of this.

Periodontal Disease and Caries (tooth decay)

People with gum disease and calculus (calcified plaque) have increased VSC counts due to bacteria in the gum pockets around the teeth. These conditions can be treated by your dentist or periodontist, with deep scaling, gum surgery or antibiotics. Good Brushing and flossing prevents gum disease. Diseases such as Trench Mouth and Oral Thrush are also causes of bad breath and are treated with antibiotics and good oral hygiene. Extensive caries (tooth decay), abscesses or a cracked filling can also cause bad breath and can be cured by your dentist.


Acute follicular tonsillitis is characterised by a proliferation of gram positive bacteria which give a musty smell to the breath as opposed to sulphur smell associated with gram negative (anaerobic) bacteria producing VSC’s.

Deep tonsillar crypts from repeated tonsillitis and scarring can also cause mucous stasis and VSC production. Sometimes bad breath is caused by Tonsilliths (calcified debris), which are produced in these crypts. ENT’s often use lasers to oblate tonsils. Tumors and ulcers of the throat can also cause halitosis.

Nose and Sinuses

Mucous stasis and VSC production in these areas also contributes to the Morning Breath problem. Sniffing warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) is useful in getting rid of static dry mucous from the nose and throat in the morning. Saline, Xylitol or Silver Ions nasal sprays are also useful. Xylitol is a natural sugar which is toxic to bacteria and dogs but not to humans and Silver ions are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. The advantage that salt, Xylitol and Silver Ions have, is that there is no build-up of resistance by microbes to these agents and, in the correct concentrations, they are not harmful to humans. There is evidence to suggest that Silver Ions are more effective than Colloidal Silver because more free Silver Ions are available to neutralise the infecting agent. Overuse of antihistamines and nasal sprays may cause proliferation of the nasal mucosa and mucous stasis with VSC production (Rhinitis Medicamentosa).

Oesophagus and Stomach

Oesophageal diverticulum is a rare condition where a sac is formed in the oesophagus and mucous stasis occurs with VSC gas production. Gastro-oesphageal reflux and burping is often caused eating foods like garlic, onion, peppers etc. and seems to be worse in people who do not eat these foods every day and people who have an incompetent lower oesophogeal sphincter.

After eating garlic, fresh parsley or a teaspoon of vanilla essence with a tablespoon of milk will help reduce food-related halitosis. Gastric outlet obstruction, malignancy and Helicobacter Pyloris infection (treated with appropriate antibiotics) are rare causes of halitosis. 

Systemic diseases and drugs

Diseases such as diabetes, liver, gall bladder, kidney and lung diseases may cause halitosis. Prescribed drugs such as Griseofulvin, Thiocarbamide, Diethylsuphoxide and Lithium can also cause unavoidable bad breath, best masked by mouthwashes and breath sprays.

Imaginary Halitosis

This is a common delusion also called Olfactory Reference Syndrome where people think they have bad breath but they do not. Parents often notice morning breath in their children and mistake it for chronic halitosis – an insensitive comment may cause the child to develop this imaginary halitosis and to become a hypochondriac suffering from an unnecessary complex.

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